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Resources for Research

Use this guide to get started with your research.

Choosing Keywords

Keywords are important words or concepts in your research question. Using the right words in your search will speed up the research process. Unlike Google, when searching library databases, keywords will always retrieve more results than phrases or sentences. To turn your topic into keywords into search terms:

  1. Write down your topic.
  2. Highlight the main concepts.
  3. For each main concept, think of a few synonyms and related terms that get at that concept.

For example, you want to write a paper on discrimination in professional sports.

Key Concepts
discrimination
professional sports
Related Terms
bias
inequity
athletics
sports

Search Tips

There are several tips that will help you fine-tune your search for information.

  • Remember to use keywords rather than sentences when searching. A complicated search will probably retrieve a very small number of results.
  • Narrow or broaden your search by combining terms using Boolean operators.
    • AND will retrieve articles containing both search terms.
    • OR will retrieve articles containing any of the terms.
    • NOT before a term will exclude articles that contain that term.
  • If available, use the list of database subject terms to find the "official" terms for your topic. Choose either Subject Terms or Thesaurus.

EDS Subject Terms Screenshot

  • Use an asterisk at the end of a word to search for all forms of that word. For example:
    • child* will return results for child, children, childhood, and any other word with the root "child"
      ;
  • And of course, ask a librarian if you have questions!! Researching can be intimidating and frustrating, so don't waste time if you get stuck or encounter something confusing. A librarian at the Reference desk can efficiently help you find better information and save you time. Use the contact information in the Got Questions? box to connect with a librarian.